The Hijab Law: Fashola’s De-confused Learning Environment By Asraf Usman
So the Lagos State Government recently outlawed the use of the hijab in public schools, saying only the conventional uniform is permitted from here on in. (European beret was given a special mention). The Lagos State Commissioner of Education and the Special Adviser to Governor Raji Fashola on Education disclosed this on the 15th of May at a media briefing. Hear the commissioner,
“it was agreed that no student should wear hijab on her uniform. Doing so would cause confusion and break down of the law.”
“Whoever wish that his daughter should be wearing hijab while going to school and within the school should send such child to a Muslim school”
How brilliantly and ingeniously ignorant of Madam Commissioner, right? It really shows how in touch she (and by extension, the Governor) is with the economic realities Nigerians are facing. With one insensitive ramble, she has created a new class division. Those who can afford to practice their religion, and those who cant.
It seems that because it is Fashola, a Muslim and a perceived progressive, the combustion process that usually follows new policies in Nigeria, has taken a much longer time to get to burning point. But why should we care whether the administrator of the law does his pilgrimage in Makkah or Jerusalem? This law is discriminatory and infringes on chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution without any substantive reason(s); and that’s what we should care about. It’s a shame that a supposedly progressive state governor doesn’t see that. A good point raised by a friend on Twitter (@abusidiqu) was if it was ok for the Governor of Kano to implement a law making all girls wear the hijab, regardless of faith, as that too is part of the uniform? All hell would break loose if this happened; and rightly so. Human Rights groups would have been petitioned, and the Kano State Government would have been accused of religious intolerance.
Anyway, as I have a passion for policy formulation, I have formulated, free-of-charge, a few follow up policies for Fashola to implement if he is indeed unwavering in his quest for a de-confused learning environment, shaken free from the lawlessness the wearing of the hijab brings.
I suggest the following:-
- If the troublesome muslim community shout too loud, don’t back track to ‘lawlessness and confusion’. Just go in the other direction and make everyone wear hijabs. Everyone including the boys, so as to create a more de-confused environment.
- So as not to cause confusion, all children in public schools should be of the conventional African skin colour. None of this light skinned fad. No child should come to school without covering themselves in black paint. Again this will decrease the amount of confusion in the learning environment. Whoever happens to have a light skinned child and wishes them to come to school with their light skinned-ness should take their child to a private school.
- So as not to cause a breakdown in law and order, all students with names that have some-sort of religious derivation should immediately be given new mutual names that have no Quranic or Biblical linkages. Imagine a class where there is both a Musa and a Moses! Madness! We cannot have such a breakdown of law and order in the classroom.
- All Religious Education classes should be stopped as there are too many religions. That again make for a confused environment. .
But seriously speaking, my fear is that Fashola is trying to play too hard to the ‘I am a progressive’ label, and this is him over compensating, trying to prove that he is not a religious bigot and can take decisions even if it’s against his own faith, ‘as long as it is for the good of the people’. Well Fashola, this is not good for the people. You are robbing helpless citizens of what little they have; their freedom. It is not progressive. It’s just stupid!
Ps. For those parents who cannot afford to help their daughter practice her religion, I couldn’t formulate any policies to help you in your predicament I am afraid. But I do have this advice; Swim across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. Most of the countries there still respect freedom and have suitably confused environments where your daughter can wear her hijab. If you are spoilt for choice, well I have selected one school amongst many that has actually incorporated the hijab into the school uniform. May I present to you the highest performing girl school in Manchester, United Kingdom, Whalley Range High School. Leave your wallet in Nigeria, it’s a public school!
By Ashraf K Usman.
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